1 August 2012 (Wednesday) - Cloth Eared

 

 

As I got out of my car at work this morning I turned on all the geocaching stuff on my phone (packet data, GPS, app, etc) just out of a sense of curiosity. Sure enough, there was a geocache within five minutes walk of where I'd parked my car. I got to within a metre of where I was told it was, but I couldn't find it. I shall have to go back when I have a little more time to look properly.

I looked this cache up on geocaching dot com and the last chap to find it did mention that the registered location was a bit out. I shall use that as my excuse for failure and try again tomorrow.

I suspect that this might be the case with quite a few geocaches. The technology will get me to within a metre or so of the thing, and then it will be down to how well I can search dependent on the vagaries of how well the thing's location was logged in the first place. So far I've found two out of the five that I've looked for.

 

Finding myself still amazed by the entire concept of geocaching I called up geocaching dot com and found that there are twenty four geocaches within a mile of my house. Widening the search radius to two miles from my house brought that total up to seventy three geocaches. There are five geocaches within two miles of the Bat-Farm and thirty within a mile of my mother's house. There are a few in Folkestone Warren, and one or two within striking distance of the tunnels I occasionally go exploring in.

I can see I have a little project for the next few weeks.

Interestingly there are only seven of the things within a mile of work, and only twenty six within two miles of the place. I can only imagine that the denizens of Canterbury look down their noses at the sort of puerile antics that are popular with the lower orders.

 

Meanwhile back on more mundane matters I popped into the minor injuries unit this morning. Regular readers of this drivel may recall a rant from a few weeks ago when I complained about my being utterly unable to get an appointment with my G.P. I've now gone completely deaf in my left ear, and it has a constant low dull throbbing sensation. The nice doctor in the minor injuries unit seemed completely unfazed by my inability to see my G.P. I got the impression that he was used to people not being able get G.P. appointments. He peered into my lughole, and announced that it was completely bunged up with earwax (yuk!) I rather suspected that was the case, and he gave me a prescription for some jollop to pour into the lug. A shame there was nowhere on the hospital site where I could get that prescription, but such is life...

 

 

2 August 2012 (Thursday) - Grrr...

 

My piss boiled this morning. Regular readers of this drivel will know that go to Teston kite festival whenever it is on. For the last few years I've helped the organisers out by being the designated key holder at the event. For every day of the long weekends at 8.30pm I locked the gate to the site. And then at 6am (regardless of how much beer I'd guzzled) I would open the gate again. And if any bona-fido person needed to come or go overnight I would do the gate for them. I've done this for the last half-dozen (or more) festivals. Locking the gate every night; unlocking it every morning.

I am reliably informed that the County Council have made it known that they have several problems with the kite festival. One of their major gripes is that they are claiming that whoever had been responsible for locking the gate for the last few years (me) apparently never did so, but left it permanently unlocked. 

 

And that's when my urine evaporated. This is a blatant lie. I'd like to find out exactly who is making these malicious and unfounded accusations. Probably someone who would never get out of their pit at 5.45am to do someone else a favour, I expect.

Other county councils throw money at kite festivals. Kent want to make money from the festival at Teston. They want to charge the people who are putting on the free show for the public. If they want to kill off the festival, why don't they just announce that they won't allow the thing to go ahead any more and be done with it? Why go through this rigmarole of causing bad feeling and putting people's backs up?

For example they want (for no apparent reason) a written list of everyone who will be present at the festival; which would be nigh on impossible to produce. And they don't seem keen on having people camping out there; they'd rather people paid a fortune in petrol to put on a show for them every day.

If they want to take a mercenary line, then I shall do so as well. I've told them that I shall be arriving to collect the key next Thursday at 10am. I shall bill them for the time I expect to be kept waiting for them. They've also asked me to be key holder. I won't be doing that for free either. I think that if they waive my camping fees (and those of my immediate party) then that might just about cover my fee.

 

Talking of kiting events I hear this weekend is one of the kite world's high points. As I was giving credit card details over the phone to the nice lady at Kites Up (they have made some banners for the astro club) she mentioned about the Jolly Up this weekend. I've been meaning to go to this for years; and i always hear about it after it's happened. This time I heard about it with one day's notice. Oh well; such is life...

 

And so to work where I went back to find the geocache I couldn't find yesterday. Sure enough the given co-ordinates were slightly out when I compared them to the clue about being underneath three cables. Mind you, I searched for quarter of an hour but couldn't find it. Perhaps with all the greenery on the trees I've picked the wrong time of year to make an easy find. I spent a little while talking geocaching at work today - I seem to have made one or two converts to the hobby - one of whom went out looking for the nearest geocache in her lunch break. Fortunately (for my dignity) she couldn't find it either; so she went looking for it after work.

I've also found that there's a dozen geocaches within half a mile of Teston Bridge picnic site. And half a dozen near Hosey's house. I shall see if I can get him geocaching at the weekend.

I've also decided to have a geocache of my very own in the front garden. News on this will follow....

 

I spent much of the evening sulking. er indoors is having a birthday today and with the vagaries of shifts and booked leave I found myself working on a super-late finish which I couldn't easily swap, whilst over twenty of my family and friends went out for curry...

 

 

3 August 2012 (Friday) - Brekkie, Geocaching...

 

 

Terry and Irene stayed in Ashford last night as they were going on to friends today. So before they went we met up and went round to the Foundry (where we met Steve) and had a spot of brekkie. You can't beat a Full English with good friends. Once replete we went for a little stroll in the park. Victoria Park is lovely; and we strolled in the sunshine; watching the fish in the river, playing pooh-sticks, watching the fountain. A lazy morning that could have gone on forever.

We made our way back to the car; failing to find a geocache on the way. And once home we had a cuppa. Terry and Irene had to go. We waved them off, rather sad that we don't see anywhere near enough of them. But we shall meet up again next weekend.

 

The rain shower had passed and the postman had been. The banners I'd ordered for the astro club had arrived, so I got them out and put them up. The poles are far superior to the poles that we have for our banners, but at thirty quid per pole, replacing what we have would cost over three hundred pounds. I can live with telescopic ones that keep collapsing.

And once we had established that we were happy with the banner poles, we went for a little geo-stroll. Having determined that there are nearly a hundred geocaches within three miles of my house we went looking for some. The first was a small sandwich box only five minutes walk from my house. The second was within two minutes of the International station. The third in a graveyard by the bowling alley. We couldn't find the fourth which was in a solicitor's office in the Bull Yard. The fifth was a tiny thing magnetised to a chair somewhere near the town centre. And the sixth was the one I failed to find on Tuesday which we did find today. It wasn't in the flower bed I thought it was in. Finding five geochaches out of six is a far better average that what I've achieved so far.

 

Home again to get the car, and on to Staples for printer cartridges. The Internet told me there was a geocache not a million miles away from there; and we found it after a bit of searching round a bus stop. And once we'd taken the shopping home we went out geocaching again. We found a really good one in a hollowed out branch in Cade Road. And then....

If you've ever driven round Ashford you'll have seen a concrete bridge on one of the roundabouts on one of the busier bypasses round the town. There's a geocache on that roundabout. We risked life and limb to get on to the roundabout, but despite a serious and intensive search we couldn't find the cache. Next time...

 

 

4 August 2012 (Saturday) - Howletts, Anniversary

 

 

Up with the lark for the weekly weigh-in. No weight loss this week, but no weight gain either. I then spent a bit of time with the astro club accounts over a spot of brekkie. The bank statement had arrived, and it's always fun trying to make my guesstimates of expenditure agree with what the bank reckons we have. It;'s at times like that when I'm glad I count the club funds down to the penny on a regular basis. And check it. Twice.

I then wrote myself a cheque for several hundred quid of club funds to reimburse myself for the banners (just need to cajole other signatories to sign their lives away), and I helped myself to thirty quid (£28.99) for the ink cartridges. Constellation games don't print themselves, you know.

 

Flushed with success after yesterday's geocaching I then hid a geocache of my very own and logged it with geocaching dot com. I'm reliably informed that it can take up to a week before new caches get listed, so I have little option but to wait patiently. There's no denying that I am rather impatient for it to go live; I'm intrigued to see how many visits it will get.

 

We then drove round to the Fudgery to collect the entourage, and we went for a day trip to Howlett's zoo. Not cheap to get into, but a free pass and season tickets made the day much more affordable. I wound littlun up with takes of Woozles, Patagonian ants and Australian chicken-eagles, and we had a great time. We even got to see the Honey Badger; which is a beast we rarely get to see. A picnic in the sunshine, a day with family. Can't be bad. And (as always) there's photos of the day out on the Internet.

 

And so to Folkestone for an anniversary party. I took along some Polish lager and developed quite a taste for the stuff. The subject of my latest craze came up; and (totally by chance) I'd seen there was a cache not far away, so I took the Hose Beast and the Bat in search of it. And then in search of four more. There was a minor incident when sliding down the hills (that were too steep to walk down) when the Bat ripped the arse out of his trousers. I did laugh.

And once cached out we returned to base for more Polish lager, and chatting until the early hours.....

 

 

5 August 2012 (Sunday) - Birthday, Trackable...

 

 

Yesterday I mentioned that I've hidden a geocache of my own. It went live yesterday afternoon, and was found three times yesterday whilst we were out. I'm quite impressed with that.

 

A quick bit of brekkie, and we set off to Folkestone to see the birthday boy. We had a quick cuppa, then went into town for a spot of shopping. Shirts were needed. Asda let us down, but Primark saw us right. Pausing only briefly for out of date chocolate (20p per bar!) we then had a stroll down through Folkestone warren. A very scenic and pretty place. And one with the odd geocache or two. There was one that we've walked past so many times in the past without knowing it was there. And quite a large chache it was too. I swapped a lego geisha for a badge, and took out a Trackable. I was *really* excited about that.

 

Trackables are little things that travel the world. Geocachers put them in caches; others find them and move them onto other geocaches. Each one has a unique tracking number so that it's progress can be logged. The one I'm currently looking after started its travels in January of this year from South Carolina in the USA. It's been to Rome and the Czech Republic already before it arrived in Folkestone warren today; only hours before I picked it up.

I shall look after it for a day of so before I release it back into the wild. I know just the place to release it. (No - not in my own cache!)

 

To think it's only five days since I found my first geocache....

 

 

6 August 2012 (Monday) - Rather Dull

 

I woke this morning to find myself completely deaf in my left ear. This jollop that the doctor prescribed hasn't done an awful lot of good really. Normally as I watch the telly I have the volume set to about level twenty-two so as not to disturb anyone. If I had it below level forty this morning I couldn't hear it. I spent quite a bit of the day feeling light-headed. I expect that's all ear-related. I shell see if I can't get it sorted in the next day or so...

As I drove to work today I was glad to hear that there was quite a lot of news coverage for the "Curiosity" robot which has been successfully landed on Mars. It weighs about a ton and is the size of a small car. I'm hoping for great things from it, for all that the public reaction was to ask why NASA were sending robots and not astronauts (!)

I got to work ten minutes earlier than I might normally have done; there's a geocache nearby that I failed to find a couple of times last week. My geocaching colleagues also failed to find it last week, and I couldn't find it this morning. I emailed the cache's owner that we couldn't find it in the hope that they might give me a clue. They replied to tell us (in general terms) that we were looking in the right place. I suppose that means we need to look harder.

Yesterday I mentioned that I'd found a Trackable in one of the geocaches at Folkestone Warren. I took it into work planning to show off to other geocachers only to find that someone else had also found one over the weekend. We swapped them (that's allowed) and I shall send my new one on it's way tomorrow. This one is Germany-bound. I'd like to get a Trackable of my own and send it off on its merry way with instructions to make it's way back to my own geocache. If any of my loyal readers are going overseas in the next few weeks, please let me know.

I then spent much of the day looking at the torrential rain outside and tried to reconcile it to the weather forecast which had predicted occasional light showers. It must be marvellous to be a professional weather forecaster. You can be utterly rubbish at your job, because everyone expects weather forecasts to be rubbish.

 

After work I stopped in Martyr's Field. I've driven through here for the last year; driving past a geocache. I found it tonight. I would have left the Trackable that was in my pocket, but the cache was too small. I then went on to Morrissons to spend my voucher on port and deodorant before filling up the car with sixty quid's worth of petrol. I can't see the attraction in shopping....

 

 

7 August 2012 (Tuesday) - Rather Busy

 

 

I woke to find my ear was still bunged up. What a way to start my rather extensive summer holiday (!) I also seem to have developed a rash. I am told that a fellow geocacher has a similar rash. I suspect we picked up some bugs when arsing down a slope in Folkestone at the weekend.

 

I made a quick phone call to Kent County Council to confirm the arrangements with the key for the kite festival this weekend. The nice man on the phone couldnít be more helpful. I mentioned about their complaints that they thought the gate hadnít been locked last year; but the chap had no idea what I was talking about. To the best of his knowledge whoever had been charged with looking after the key last time had done a sterling job. I was pleased about that (!)

I got the laundry onto the washing line and over a spot of brekkie I went through the contents of my letter rack. It was rather full. There were the bank statements, so I did the monthly accounts. Thereís no denying that they look rather shabby compared to this time last year, but they could be a whole lot worse.

There was the letter to confirm who should be on the electoral register. And a reminder because Iíd not filled out the original letter. The letter said I could do the whole thing on-line, so I did and saved a whole load of farting about.

There was an invitation to take up BTís hyper-fast broadband. For all that I was spitting bullets last week about the broadband being down, it was only down for two days, and itís rarely (if ever) failed before. Bearing in mind BT will be twice the price of my current provider, I shall stick with what Iíve got.

There was yet another bank statement for the snake club which folded up some time in the late 1990s. I really should see about closing that account down.

There was an apology from the bank about their recent computer glitch which might just possibly (but didnít) have affected the astro clubís account.

There was an offer to get cheaper home insurance from the people who do the car insurance. I shall save that letter until January when the renewal is due; by which time I shall have lost it.

And those thoroughly useless people at the union (which I left in February) were offering expensive insurance.

 

With post sorted I mowed the lawn. That wasted half an hour. I then sorted undercrackers whilst watching ďStar TrekĒ. Putting socks into pairs takes an age. And then I set off on my travels. Iíd phoned my G.P. surgery and told them I wasnít asking for an appointment; I was telling them I was having one. 2.20pm was good for them so I took the scenic route via a couple of geocaches. There was an iffy five minutes when I nearly (but not quite) picked up a discarded dog dung bag thinking it was a geocache, but all turned out well in the end. I got to the docís where the nurse hosed out my lug with an amazing gadget. I can now hear again.

 

Whilst out and about I went to town the scenic route. I couldnít find the geocache by St Simonís Church. Passing muggles (non-geocachers are called muggles, you know!) saw me and told me where the cache was. Right in the middle of the bushes and not really accessible in summer. But as I came through the park I found one that er indoors TM" couldnít find last night. I then went up to Wilkoís to get the makings of Chipís birthday ale. Whilst in there I got talking with the normal people who (for some reason) thought I was a master brewer and I found myself imparting all sorts of sage wisdom on the subject of making home-brew.

 

I was planning to look for a fourth geocache on the way home Ė a particularly elusive one. But a combination of rain and texts made me abandon that idea. I hurried home to give Lisa her gazebo. I shall be putting that gazebo up on Thursday, but I donít have space in the car for it.

 

After a quick bit of tea we set off to Chippy's. As we walked up Beaver Road I couldn't resist looking for the geocache I'd missed three times already. I found it this time. And once at Chippy's we all went en masse to the Admiralty for the Tuesday meet-up. Exchanging insults, watching telly. Can't be bad...

 

 

8 August 2012 (Wednesday) - Geocaching Again

 

 

Something was different this morning. It took me a few moments to realise that I could actually hear. Having an unblocked ear makes such a difference. I had a quick bit of brekkie and then packed as much of teh camping as I needed into the car. On previous camping trips I've taken far too much. THis time I have been rather judicious with what I've packed. This time I've taken enough chairs. Not "far too many" like I usually do; just "enough". There's a minor mishap with the cooking gear in that I can't find it. I'm hoping that it is at the farm with the gas. If not it'll be fish and chips and sandwiches all weekend.

 

With the car loaded I then mucked out the pond's fish poo filter. A smelly job, but one which needed doing. And (this time) a job which took a lot longer than usual as my mobile kept going off with messages. I was conducting text conversations about buying tents, missing gas canisters and rubber boats whilst up to my elbows in fish dung. Nice!

With fish filters cleaned and me scrubbed I went on-line to find that "The Man with No Alias (patent pending)" had been disrespecting my smalls. He will regret that foolish bravado (!) Whilst on-line I submitted my entry to the short story competition I mentioned a few weeks ago. I was pleasantly surprised to see that you got a discount if you entered a second story. I'd been toying with one the other day so I dusted it off, corrected a few spelling mistakes and emailed both my stories off. Here's hoping.

The money I've saved with the discount has been wasted on geocaching kit.

 

Talking of which I then went for a quick geocache. Just as I found the second one of the day my phone rang. Chippy was keen to see what was involved in the latest waste of time. My phone beeped again. Matt also was interested in having a go. We met up with the Bat as well, and four of us spent a very pleasant couple of hours visiting eight of central Ashford's hidden treasures. Some more hidden than others.

 

And so home again where we watched the first Star Trek film over a rather nice bit of tea. Regular readers of this drivel will be disappointed for the next few days as I'm off on my holidays. But should anyone see that as a green light to come house-breaking, please beware of "My Boy TM", Fudge and the house-sitting posse.

 

 

9 August 2012 (Thursday) - Off to Teston

 

The plan was to get to Teston Bridge Country Park by 10am, and we did just that. There was a minor disaster when we realised that we'd left the key to the car's roof box at home, but that was nothing that a quick phone call home wouldn't cure. Or nothing that a quick phone call home wouldn't cure if only people would actually answer the phone...

We met up with the warden as planned to collect the key, we met up with Dick, exchanged a few insults, and were putting tents up by 10am. For some strange reason our communal mess tent "Brown and Smelly" didn't go together as easily as it might have. I've no idea what the problem was. As we worked, so more campers arrived. Even more might have arrived earlier had the Rear Admiral not forgotten his air beds.

 

I made a start putting up the banners. They look good, but do take a little while to assemble. A dozen banners took over an hour, and then it was lunch time. With lunch scoffed we had time for a quick bit of geocaching; it transpired that there were three within two minutes of where we'd set up camp. And within a few minutes not only had I found three more geocaches but I'd made more converts to geocaching.

 

It was a hot afternoon, so much of the afternoon was spent slobbing and drinking lager. Not an unpleasant way to wait for tea time to come. Tea was worth waiting for; chicken strips was very nice. As was the home brew I'd knocked together for the holiday. And with tea eaten and washing up washed up we relaxed and had a few beers. There was a minor mishap when someone got themselves locked into the overflow car park. I didn't have the keys to that. But I was reliably informed that this was a problem which was soon cured. It must have been - within minutes of the problem arising I was drinking port. I quite like a bottle of port in a tent after dark...

 

 

10 August 2012 (Friday) - Sewing Knives and Cooking Hammers

 

 

Being the designated key holder to the park I'd had a lot of requests from people (who had to work today) that I might be sure to unlock the gates for them. I unlocked the gates at 4.55am and went back to bed. I gave up trying to sleep at 7am having been constantly woken by people asking me to unlock a gate which was already unlocked. But I didn't mind. I was happy to have the chance to use being the key holder to meet up with a lot of old friends.

 

Quite a few of our number also had places to be and people to see (and mountains to ski) this morning, so brekkie was on the go at 8.15am, and was all eaten and washed up by 9am. This is something that has never been done before at camp, and was actually rather a good thing. It gave us the morning to do things. So often we are still clearing up after brekkie at 11.30am. I used the morning to do some much-needed banner maintenance with my sewing knife. I have a nice sewing knife and it attracted quite a bit of interest. Whilst I sewed the Rear Admiral had his arse handed to him on a plate whist playing football (sic), and Terry had to take a tablet (!)

 

We had a quick drop of lunch, and with no wind for flying kites ten of us set off on a short stroll. Down the river to Wateringbury. We found a geocache on the way from which I removed a Trackable. It was a very hot and still afternoon, and we were all glad to find the pub in Wateringbury where a pint slipped down quite nicely. Moving on we crossed the river and, pausing only briefly to get my leg ripped open by barbed wire, we soon found ourselves on the hills overlooking the camp site. A rather spectacular view. There was a bit of a problem when we found a gaggle of horses blocking our way along one of the footpaths, but I discovered that I had quite a talent as a horse whisperer, and I got Neddy to follow me as I led him and his herd of horses out of the way.

 

The plan was then to have a second pint at the Tickled Trout before making our way back to camp. But the Tickled Trout was closed. So we sat outside and sweated; it was a very hot day. Some of our number then wandered back to camp; three of us had a crafty geocache; realising that there were three more on our way back to camp.

We got back to camp to find everyone was suffering from the heat. I then helped with the cooking. Irene needed someone to do the garlic and carroway seeds. I cooked them quite comprehensively with my cooking hammer; a very versatile tool. Tea tonight was excellent; goulash. Very tasty. I had second helpings.

 

And then with still no wind we had a little drinkie. I had to do gate duty at 10pm, and again at midnight. Having let Simon in we then had a drop of port, photographed a very picturesque moon in the mist, and had a farting contest which Simon lost by first gassing himself and secondly by waking his family. Oh how I laughed...

 

 

11 August 2012 (Saturday) - Teston Kite Festival

 

 

Another early brekkie. Early brekkie is such a good idea: we get so much more done with the day. In a novel break with tradition the wind was blowing, so I got a kite out. The wind stopped. I put the kite away. The wind started from a different direction. I tried a different kite. I mucked about trying different kites for over an hour before giving up in disgust. In the end young Morgan (who was visiting) did better with the kite than I did.

 

We had a rather good lump of melon with lunch, and just as I was scoffing my bread and cheese we had a flying visit from an ex-Teston warden to tell us that there was a meeting at 5.30pm to discuss the future of the Teston kite festivals. That was worrying. The new wardens came round collecting camping fees; I asked them what the meeting was all about; they said that the council would no longer run the event and that the council was looking for someone else to take it on. The implication being that the kite club who were currently seen to be running the event weren't actually running it at all and wouldn't be running it in future.

As the afternoon wore on I was asked my opinion on the matter from many different people. Would I take the event on? I wasn't keen to do so, but if no-one else would do so, then I would (with a little help from my friends). Fortunately for my nerves we hosted Rhiannon's birthday tea during the afternoon. Chocolate cake and party rings were shared by loads of friends. Good times !

 

Finally 5.30pm arrived. Everyone convened for the meeting and a disgruntled council ex-employee made an announcement which turned out to be factually at odds with what the wardens had told me during the afternoon. The chap who had been thought to be the event organiser seemed to be rather miffed at the fact that the meeting had been called, and he said that things would carry on regardless next year. He did seem rather reticent about some of the details of some people's concerns and worries, but the meeting ended amicably with the promise that next year we will have two kite festivals at Teston. I've told the organiser that I will do anything and everything I can to help; from here on in all we can do is to await developments.

 

Whilst we had our meeting "Daddies Little Angel TM" had been sailing downstream in a rubber dingy. We got a phone call from her to say she and her crew (Sabrina and Sid the dog) had arrived on the shores of Yalding (some ten miles downstream), and would we drive out to fetch them?

 

Tea was nice - stir fry is always good. I am reliably informed that it is better when all the ingredients are added, but I scoffed it just the same. And with the tea stuff cleared away we drank beer and port until the stars came out...

 

 

12 August 2012 (Sunday) - Teston Kite Festival

 

 

Again I heard someone's phone alarm going off at 6.30am. Someone's phone has the same alarm tune as mine, and someone has not turned the thing off. I got up and chatted with those who were already awake, and as I abluted so everyone else got up. Again we had an early brekkie. And with little wind four of us went on a very quick geocache hunt. We found two, and we found a couple of other geocachers too.

 

Back to camp where Sarah and Steve had arrived to visit. We sat and chatted and dozed before playing with the solar scope, and then having another go with the kites; the wind was beginning to pick up. At mid-afternoon all the kiters gathered for the traditional photograph of all the Testonians. Eventually a photo was obtained, and we carried on with the kites. I had an entertaining five minutes with some normal people who were quite taken with my pyro-fish kite, and we played with Chinese dragons too.

 

And all too soon the afternoon was over, and most people were going home. Not everyone stays overnight; most people go home, and it was sad to say goodbye to so many friends. With everyone else packing up I spent a couple of hours tidying away banners and things that could easily be tidied away before we had a rather nice tea of fajitas and a couple of rounds of Blokus.

"er indoors TM" was expected back from the National Convention of Candle-Floggers at about 10.30pm, so we sat and chatted about crime, punishment and fidolatory until she finally arrived shortly after midnight. By this point the port was all gone, so we had some amaretto instead...

 

 

13 August 2012 (Monday) - Reflections on Teston

 

 

Up promptly, a swift full English breakfast, tents down and away from the field by 11.30am. We've never got packed away so early before. And we were home and unpacked before 2pm. A wonderful weekend away with family and friends; and a dry camp. I can't remember the last camp when we didn't have torrential rain at some point. There's photos of the event here

.

 

With the Teston kite festival done and dusted for another year I find myself wondering about the event's future. A lot of us went this year expecting it to be the last one. Will it be? There have been a lot of rumours and third hand disinformation all to the effect that the council want the festivals to stop. From what I think I gleaned this weekend the fact of the matter is that the county council have made it clear that they will support future kite festivals at Teston in every way except financially. Someone else has got to stump up for the event.

 

What financial outlay is there? The nice lady from the council says that the field hire will be two hundred and fifty quid and that the liability insurance is (apparently) about the order of fifty quid. Camping fees bring in three hundred quid. So far the event is break-even. But I am reliably assured that any such event must now have first aiders in attendance.

Is this true? We've never had them at astro club events.

Personally I have serious issues with the entire concept of "first aiders"; so much so that when my kids were smaller and went on various activities I sent instructions that the do-gooding first aiders of my acquaintance were not allowed near my offspring under any circumstances. I've personally watched the blundering incompetence of so-called first aiders, and have read that in serious emergences first aiders have historically killed more than they have cured. But if it is true that first aiders are needed for future kite festivals then I am told that the going rate for first aiders is over two hundred pounds. It seems odd that first aiders are a requirement for a kite festival which for twenty six years has never had any, and has a district general hospital less than five minutes away but what do I know....

 

So it would seem that the kite festival is under funded to the tune of a couple of hundred quid. How can the deficit be addressed. We are told that there are legal reasons why a burger van can't be brought along to rake in some cash to subsidise the festival. There's already an ice cream van there who has dibs on non-cooked food which might have given us an income. Kite traders don't come to the event any more because it's not profitable, so we can't sting them for a pitch fee.

But despite what looks like a dire financial proposition the Kent Kite Fliers have taken on the event, and seem confident that they can run the festival. Can they? There are those who feel they don't understand what they have taken on. That might be true. But I for one feel that I admire them for having a go. They seem to be employing my personal outlook on life that idiot enthusiasm can always triumph over common sense. It usually does. And if I can do anything to help future festivals, I'm only too happy to help.

 

Meanwhile back in reality once we were home and had the gear packed away, "My Boy TM" came to visit. He had a confession to make. During our absence Fudge had been swimming in the Koi pond. I'm told no harm had been done. I hope not.

Regular readers of this drivel may recall that the "My Boy TM"- mobile blew up a week or so ago. He was planning to acquire its replacement this afternoon, and with insurance details sorted we drove down to Folkestone with him to collect the vehicle. It seems a good car, as cars go. He's happy with it, and I suppose that's all that matters...

 

 

14 August 2012 (Tuesday) - At A Loose End...

 

After a wonderful weekend away with family and friends I felt somewhat at a loose end today. With "My Boy TM" expecting deliveries I really needed to wait in for the postman. The firm bringing the parcel takes undelivered stuff back to Maidstone. Driving there and back is a bit of a pain so I waited about the house. I soon got bored with playing silly Facebook games, so I tried to make progress with a talk I have planned for the astro club. Tried and failed. It's a talk which is a little "out of the box", and I couldn't get the enthusiasm for it today.

 

Instead I did a little research. Yesterday I ranted about the future of the kite festival at Teston. Specifically the funding of future events bearing in mind that they will effectively have to be private ventures. The nice lady from Kent county council with whom I spoke at great length was absolutely adamant that the cost of public liability insurance cover would be fifty quid. She was crystal clear on the matter, and said that such insurance was obtainable at that price from http://www.insuremyevent.co.uk She said she'd looked it up herself several times. We discussed the matter in detail and she was completely convinced of the price. I had a go on their website and come up with a price of £279.19 (!) I wonder how much else I was told that wasn't quite right.

 

With three loads of washing on the line and drying in the sunshine I found myself gripped with boredom. So I had a little tidy-up in the front garden. Periodically I pull the weeds out from between the paving slabs and have a sweep-up and the garden looks presentable for a week or so. Whilst pootling I got into a conversation with a passing street sweeper who told me that my road is one of the cleanest in Ashford. Apparently he gets far less litter from my street than from any other. I was quite pleased to hear that.

 

I then wandered along the road and (looking very nonchalant) hid another geocache. I say "hid" - the thing is quite obvious really. Or that is it's obvious when you know where it is. That's two geocaches I've hidden now. I've plans for a third one. I'd like to have quite a big one; one large enough to hold trackables and things; but that would need a special location. I wonder if I might pop one in the church yard somewhere?

 

Being a Tuesday the clans gathered. On the way to gathering we met up with Chip and found a couple more geocaches. One of them was the little fellow pictured above. What a wonderful idea for a cache. And I came home to find an email that the cache I made today breached two of the rules of the game. I've put it all right; let's hope that the nice people at geocaching dot com agree with me...

 

 

15 August 2012 (Wednesday) - Stuff

 

 

Yesterday I hid another geocache. It was made live by the nice people at geocaching dot com at 7.25am this morning and was found for the first time less than half an hour later. That's keen!

I then set off out to deliver catalogues of bargains to the masses. And after I'd delivered to forty houses I found an identical catalogue on someone's doorstep marked for collection. Someone else had clearly done this road a few days ago. But not just any old "someone else". This was the person for who we act as agents. This isn't the first time we've found her catalogues in areas where we had no idea she delivers.

I have all but decided to give up with doing these catalogue drops. There is absolutely no point in doing them when we are delivering to houses that have already had a very recent delivery from the very person who wants us to do drops on her behalf. We have asked her to let us know where she has delivered, and she tells us where she's been in the past. But she never lets us know when she branches out somewhere else. That most volatile of my bodily fluids is rapidly evaporating....

 

I then spent a little while re-vamping mankybadger dot com. I think it now looks nicer. Just as I was putting the finishing touches to it I had a message. My acquired daughter had found two geocaches already and was on her way to find my two. Did I want to go out geocaching with her?

We had a great time. In built up streets and in woodlands. Bridges and stiles. Nettles and bus stops. Robin Hood and traffic islands. We were out for four hours. We found eight caches, and gave up on three. Three of the caches were multi-staged in that the initial clue didn't lead to the actual cache, but to another clue to find the cache. We even found a trackable.

 

Home to find my hereditary daughter in residence with Sid. We exchanged a few insults, and then "er indoors TM" came home. We had planned to go for a walk and we thought we'd take Fudge. We arrived at the Fudgery to find no one home, so we did a couple more geocaches. One had a trackable, one eluded us.

We collected Fudge and went to the warren for a walk. And guess what we did. I'll give the thicker of my loyal readers a clue: it begins with "ge" and ends with "ocaching".

We found one. And this was perhaps the most interesting one ever. I found one which was just as per the description. "er indoors TM" found one a few yards away matching the description of what it was once like before it was reported as lost. She'd obviously found the original one. Soaking wet, totally sodden. With two trackables in a very sorry state.

It was at this point that my phone battery died, so I took this to be God's way of telling me to get a life. We played briefly on a rope swing before taking Fudge back home where the birthday girl was just about to start tea. Steak and chips. It looked nice so we left them to it.

 

Shortly after I got home I was told that "My Boy TM" proposed. (I was told shortly before the official announcement was made on Facebook). The birthday girl said "yes". I amazed myself by not crying...

 

 

16 August 2012 (Thursday) - A Challenge

 

I had something of a lie-in this morning; not emerging from my pit until gone 8am. I spent a few minutes mucking out my inboxes of hundreds of spam emails, then set about mowing the lawn. That stuff grows too quickly.

I then spent a few hours looking for a pair of trousers. I have a pair I bought recently. Quite light; ideal for a walk in the summer. Can I find them? I eventually had to give up and rough it with another pair. I needed trousers. Iíve got my legs so badly ripped and stung by geocaching in shorts recently.

 

A quick bite of lunch, and Lisa soon arrived for an afternoonís geocaching. We started with one along Hornash Lane and then failed to find the one at Orlestone Church before meeting Steve in Hamstreet. Through woodlands and footpaths in the sunshine; eventually finding eleven of our twelve targets for the afternoon.

 

And so home where I squeezed a few volts into my phone whilst waiting for "er indoors TM" to return. Once she was home we popped to the Fudgery to collect the problem pup, and we took him to the warren for a walk. It was utter co-incidence that there was a geocache there that we didn't do last night. This one was tricky. At the specified point (which was rather hard to find) were directions to a bench half a mile away. Once there we got instructions for finding the actual cache. Some might say it was a waste of an hour. Me - I had a great time with great company.

 

On the way home we stopped off to pose for photos with a piece of local artwork as part of an on-line challenge. It was simple enough to do. I might accept more of these on-line challenges...

 

 

17 August 2012 (Friday) - Guess What I Did

 

 

It turned out that despite it being a week day there were a few of us available to get into mischief today. Five of us gathered chez moi at 9am and we set off on what was originally planned to be a geocaching extravaganza. I'd planned a route which would take us three hours to cover and would visit seventeen geocaching sites; as well as getting us a spot of McBreakfast into the bargain.

 

In the end it turned out that I was being rather ambitious. We ended up taking two and a half hours just to get to McBreakfast; so we abandoned the entire Sevington and Hinxhill sections of the route. We can do them at any time. But the day was still a good one. We visited ten cache sites, and only failed on two of them. And we even found a red herring(!). We got home an hour later than planned, and after a shower and a quick spot of lunch I watched a film I'd recorded about the pirate Blackbeard. It was quite good.

 

One of the employment agencies phoned about a potential job. A few months ago I would be rather enthusiastic about the prospect. Now, having been turned down so many times, I'm rather resigned to the fact that nothing will come of it. But hope springs eternal...

"My Boy TM" then arrived with Fudge. He and his posse are of to foreign parts for the weekend and so we are looking after "problem pup". He's apparently getting too excitable. I say "probably"; there's no "probably" about it. He can be excitable. I wonder if it's time to cut his goolies off. Or just walk him a lot more than he has been walked.

 

As "My Boy TM" set off I set off with Fudge. A good walk usually works wonders with him. And this morning I'd been given a really good present. A ready-made geocache. (Cheers Jose!) And on our mission this morning I'd found just the place to hide it. So I went to that place, hid it, took the GPS co-ordinates six times (to get an average), walked another two miles to wear the pup out, and came home. As Fudge slept I then logged my third geocache hide with the nice people at geocaching dot com.

 

"er indoors TM" came home and we set off to Park Farm where we met Chris. A nice walk in the evening with the dog, and we did three geocaches too...

 

 

18 August 2012 (Saturday) - I.G.D.

 

I had a terrible night's sleep. Fudge woke me with his crying at 2am. He sounds so heartbroken when he cries in the night. He wouldn't settle, so we broke all the rules and allowed him upstairs where he was as good as gold. I nodded back off (despite the heat) only to be woken a couple of hours later by some feeble-minded simpleton outside shouting to the world about his passionate love for some football team based over two hundred and fifty miles away.

 

I canít help but wonder how people choose their favourite football teams. I can understand supporting the local team, or the team of their birthplace, or a team from somewhere with which someone has a special connection. But how can so many people who are Kentish born-and-bred be so devoted to teams from Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds? Whatís the attraction? I really cannot fathom it.


I got up perhaps a little earlier than I might have done today. Having booked leave for camping weekends and with the vagaries of my shifts I seem to be off work for most of August but was rota-ed to be working this weekend. Bearing in mind what Ive been doing for the last week it seems somewhat ironic that today is National Geocaching Day and I was due to be working. So I left home a little early with a view to doing a cache on the way to work. I found it right away, and then went to spend a little while looking for the geocache near work that Iíd failed to find half a dozen times. I knew it was in a hedge beneath some power lines. Fortunately for me someone had trimmed the hedge a few days ago. The cache was immediately obvious and it even contained a trackable. This trackable was a little dragonfly which had been originally been put into a cache a year ago by a six year old in Colorado with instructions for the thing to find its way to France. From Colorado it had gone to Tennessee then on to New York, Germany and Tunbridge Wells before ending up in a hedge in Canterbury. I need to send it France-wards. I might put it within walking distance of the Eurostar terminal and see what happens.

 

I hadnít realised how out of touch with the world I have become lately. My drive to and from work is when I listen to the news, and I hadnít listened to the news for some time. Iím not sure whether Iím glad or sorry to say that I havenít actually missed much. Science has found some new spiders in a cave in California, And NASAís curiosity rover continues its extra-terrestrial odyssey whilst being ignored by the world at large. In fact the most riveting development was an admission from the top brass at the Ministry of Defence that UFOs are more likely to be Russian than MartianÖ

 

 

19 August 2012 (Sunday) - Stuff

Another restless night. I don't mind the hot days; it's the hot nights I don't like. It's rather frustrating to have spent much of yesterday looking forward to watching a film with friends only to sleep through the film, and then to go home and lay awake restless for much of the night

And so to work again. I didn't have the Sunday service on the radio this morning. Instead there was a discussion about a party which had been held to celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the Pendle Witches Trial. I felt sorry for the organisers of the event who had clearly done their best to put on a family fun day, and to raise money for a good cause. On the one hand they were under attack for making light of the deaths of ten innocent people, and on the other hand they were accused of child abuse for making kiddies think that dressing as a witch is harmless fun.

 

I must admit that I got a bit cross with the do-gooder who accused the organisers of child abuse. When I was younger I would have stood side by side with that do-gooder waving my bible in the air. As I grew older (but not wiser) I had a complete change of heart, and I would have (verbally) attacked the do-gooder and asked if he had magical pixies in his garden as well as his imaginary friends and the voices in his head. And now... I really don't know what I believe. But I do believe that do-gooders who force their religious views on to children do far more harm that anyone who invites them to dress up in a silly costume for fun.

As a child I was in the Boys Brigade. I *loved* it; lapped up all of what I was told, and had no idea that I was being slowly and quietly brainwashed by religion until some years after I'd taken the confirmation they'd led me to.

 

The radio article ended just as I drove into Chilham. I went to work via a slight detour this morning. With (seemingly) the rest of the world at liberty to go geocaching today I didn't want to be left out, so I did a quick "cache and grab".

 

I can't believe how popular the entire geocaching thing has become just recently. A very good friend of mine has been telling me about it for months and I wasn't interested. After all, going looking for little plastic boxes sounds rather lame. But when you find your first little plastic box hidden on the pavement that you walk along every day, you start to wonder how many others there might be. And you start looking. There's about one hundred and six (as of this afternoon) of the things within three miles of my house. I think it's fair to say that over the last couple of weeks I've converted over a dozen people to the cause.

 

I didn't sulk as much as I might have done today. Others had gone to the beach today because I was working and I'm not keen on the beach anyway, and because the weather had been forecast to be even hotter than yesterday and I don't really like the heat. Hoever it didn't turn out to be as hot as predicted.

Weather forecasting is a joke really. The forecasters look at what happened the day before and just predict a bit more of the same; throwing in a wet or a dry spell for a bit of variety. And when they get it wrong, no one does anything because they are expected to get it wrong anyway.

 

I did my bit at work and then made my way home again. And I had the shock of my life.

Whilst driving along a rather dark part of the A28 I suddenly spotted a cyclist who came seemingly out of nowhere. It was after dark and this twit was dressed in black and had no lights and no reflectors. With a lot of oncoming traffic I could not swerve, but had to do an emergency stop. Fortunately there was no one behind me or things would have been messy. Why do people cycle so dangerously? Couldn't he have at least worn something light so he could have been seen, rather than wearing something dark to act as camouflage?

 

 

20 August 2012 (Monday) - Goudhurst

 

 

I was hoping to take Fudge for a walk today, but he just can't do polite company. When it's just "er indoors TM" and/or me, he's fine. Perfect behaviour; no problems. If anyone else is about he become a sexually aroused whirlwind. Training is ongoing as is the campaign to have his knacks removed, but it the meantime he can't be trusted when others are about.

Fortunately "Daddies Little Angel TM" was about today. She took charge of him to continue "Dog School". I left them to it as Fudge tried to hump Sid for the umpteenth time.

 

I met up with Steve and Maria and we set off to Goudhurst. there is a six mile walk round the countryside which covers fifteen geocaches (and a bonus cache for anyone who finds all fifteen). We had a really good walk in the country. There was a dodgy five minutes when we found that (apparently) Goudhurst is home to werewolves. And there was a frankly disappointing episode when we stopped at the Globe and Rainbow in Kilndown for a lunch stop. The beer was surprisingly good. Surprisingly in that I would have though that the bar staff's attitude was enough to sour anything. It's quite plain they don't want the custom; their attitude was somewhere between rude and arrogant. I would not go back again, and would not advise anyone else to do so.

But trivial problems were soon overcome, and we had our picnic a little way further along the track. There was a rope swing nearby, so we played silly beggars on it for a little while and achieved a geocaching challenge into the bargain. As the day went on so it got hotter and we did begin to wilt. The Goudhurst Millennium Walk is rather rubbish in that it starts off clearly signposted, and as it goes on it becomes more and more vague; eventually becoming just random unmarked footpaths. But notwithstanding landowners who don't mark rights of way we found all fifteen geocaches and even went on to find the bonus sixteenth as well. We did feel rather pleased with ourselves.

 

Home, and then on to astro club committee meeting (via two more geocaches). A good meeting, a good chat with friends, and we all went outside shortly after 9pm to watch the I.S.S. pass overhead. I took the opportunity to test out my new Google Sky app. I was rather disappointed to find that Google Sky didn't have the I.S.S. on it..

 

 

21 August 2012 (Tuesday) - Wye

 

 

I had a minor panic this morning. My computer failed to load Windows. It then went into a self-repair mode which it wouldn't exit. After half an hour I got a message saying it had no idea what was wrong with itself, thank you and goodnight. It then suggested unplugging any cameras and trying a reboot. It turned out that if you're going to plug a phone into a USB port to charge it, you should do so *after* the computer has booted up. It doesn't like it if you plug the phone in before turning the computer on.

 

I then walked Fudge round the block. He was fine. Training is working slowly. I then left him "home alone" for a bit whilst I went out on a mission with Lisa and Earle. We got the gas for the weekend, and then to Wye for a walk in the sunshine. Up and down the Downs - my poor heart. It nearly did for me. Whilst we were at it we followed a few geocaching trails. It's now three weeks since I found my first geocache, and today I found my hundredth. Whilst we were out I got a text from another geocaching mission; I'd completely forgotten I had an invite to Sumner's Ponds this weekend.

 

Home, and I took Fudge for another walk. He's getting better on the lead; a shame he seems to need to pee every ten yards. I suspect it's a dog thing.

And then (being Tuesday) the clans gathered at our place. Fudge found himself locked in the kitchen, having attempted to express his affection in the physical way that boy dogs do once too often.

His knacks can't get cut off too soon...(!)

 

 

22 August 2012 (Wednesday) - Woodchurch

 

Up with the lark, and after a very swift brekkie I was loading gear into the car for the up-coming camping extravaganza. Loading the car for kite festivals is easy. For some reason doing exactly the same for Bat-Camp is a nightmare. I never remember half the stuff we need. It didn't help having Fudge dancing underneath where I was trying to put down heavy tents either.

Eventually I got the car loaded; and then I mowed the lawn. I had been told that Fudge didn't like lawnmowers. He didn't seem bothered by our one. But one the lawn was mowed and lunch was scoffed he did seem bothered when I went out and left him for a few hours. Oh well. He'll have to get used to that. I met up with Lisa and Earle and we spent a pleasant few hours in the countryside near Woodchurch finding another fourteen geocaches and completing three more geocaching challenges.

 

I would love to have taken Fudge along, but he is currently lacking in the requisite social graces, being seemingly unable to grasp the concept of celibacy. Mind you the appointment for his knackersectomy has been made. I'm not impressed though. As well as charging far too much for the operation, the vet also wants sixty quid for two "health boosting" injections during the month before the operation.

 

Talking of which, Fudge's entourage came to visit. Specifically they came to visit Fudge. And then we all walked round to Asda where we got requisites for the weekend. I'm looking forward to going off on my hols. As always, in my absence "My Boy TM" takes command of the homestead. Any housebreakers who fancy their chances with him are welcome to have a go...

 

 

23 August 2012 (Thursday) - Off to Bat-Camp

 

 

I was woken at 5am by the sensation of having my face gently licked. I was hoping that "er indoors TM" wasn't getting any funny ideas, but it was Fudge being excitable. He does that. Having been woken at 5am I should have stayed up, but I thought I'd have a few more minutes kip, and that was fatal. I was then running late for the rest of the morning.

 

Martin arrived, and we set off to camp via Tesco for some supplies. No one told me that a small bit of halloumi goes a long way; I bought about four times too much. Notwithstanding surplus cheese we were soon at camp and it didn't take long to load up trailers. We took a little while to plan where to put our tents; there's no denying that there was an abundance of dung. But once tents were up the halloumi was put to good use and a rather enjoyable lunch was had by all.

 

The afternoon was used for a spot of fishing, and mince and pasta washed down with an abundance of beer made for a rather enjoyable tea. I put my cooking hammer to good use and chopped some firewood with it, and as it got dark so we sat round the camp fire. People slowly went to bed, and port and cheese were opened. Oh yes (!)

Eventually we staggered off to bed shortly after midnight; pausing only briefly for the Rear Admiral to lose the impromptu farting contest.

 

 

24 August 2012 (Friday) - At Bat-Camp

 

 

I woke for a tiddle at 3am; it was surprisingly cold. I had a vague idea to be up with the lark for a spot of early morning fishing today. By the time I'd overslept then had my morning ablution I eventually got to the pond shortly after 8am. I caught a few tiddlers and was contemplating making my way back to camp when Lisa and Earle wandered up with a cuppa for me. There was apparently little life back at camp so we carried on fishing until summoned for brekkie at 11am. Brekkie was rather good, and after washing up we all slobbed about for an hour or so. You can't beat slobbing about in a field.

 

After a rather protracted slob we got up. Some had works socials to attend, others had beloveds to collect. Lisa, Earle and I had seen Egerton on a map and had planned a ramble round the area doing a spot of geocaching on the way. We had a really good afternoon in the sunshine; marreed only by the total loss of phone and internet and GPS signal (which did make geocaching a tad problematical). On the way we met up with the Bat and the Hose-Beast, and only failing to find one of the geocaches we moved into Pluckley. Finding the cache at the church was relatively easy. We were then planning to walk on to another cache a way away, but it started raining. The Hose-Beast had some choice words to say on the matter, and we went into the Black Horse to shelter from the torrent. By some amazing co-incidence the Black Horse was staging a beer festival; so we felt it would be rude not to have a couple of their offerings (including half a pint of the aptly-named "Thunderer").

 

Back to camp where Steve had arrived. We pitched his tent and then did some Hosey-caching. Hosey-caching is basically home-made geocaching, and the principle worked vary well. An entertaining time was had by all until the light began to fail, So we had tea - chicken casserole - and took the mickey out of "Worzel" until beer was abandoned in favour of port.

We staggered to our beds at 2am. Hic!

 

 

25 August 2012 (Saturday) - Rain

 

 

Within minutes of climbing into my pit last night the rain started. It was heavy; bordering on to torrential, and it went on all night long. The Rear Admiral texted me at 6.10am to ask if I wanted to go fishing. I soon heard that my reply made him giggle, I stayed in bed listening to the rain and sulking about the rain until 8am when I got up, abluted in the rain, and sulked about the rain in the mess tent.

 

We had a leisurely breakfast in the rain, and washed up in the rain. And with no sign of the rain abating I formally declared Emergency Plan B (beer) to be in effect, and helped myself to the generous servings of the home brew. Which wasn't really the best thing to do becase just as I started the fourth pint so the weather cheered up and visitors arrived. It wasn't fair that Sarah wasn't well, but Steve came out, as did the O'Latas. Whilst the (supposedly) grown ups sat and chatted and dyed their hair, the littluns played "Beer Can Pinyata" and made their own home-made poo-sticks (from poo and sticks).

 

Tea was good - sweet & sour and all sorts of goodies with it. It was a shame that I dozed through much of the afternoon and evening, but I recovered enough to do a rather amazing rendition of "Foo-Foo the Bunny Rabbit" at the camp fire before we adjourned for port and cheese; finally crawling into our pits at 1am.

 

 

26 August 2012 (Sunday) - Lazy Day

 

 

I *could* have done a spot of early morning fishing, but I really couldn't be bothered to get out of my pit. I finally emerged about 8am, and had a spot of fishing then with Steve. Whilst I fished, the Hoseys photographed. As an experiment I stopped using maggots as bait and tried some old boilies I'd found in my tackle bag. They worked to a degree. I caught fewer fish that i would have with maggots, but they were bigger; including two huge ones that got away.

Brekkie was good as always. There was a problem in that the milk had gone off in the heat. I was fine. I can drink black coffee. And as everyone went off to collect others or to do shopping I went back to the pond for some more fishing.

 

Steve was soon back with Sarah, who was feeling better. Andy and Julie came out too, as did Keith and Amy. And with the sun out we enjoyed a good afternoon. Initially we had some excitement. One of the duck houses had slipped its moorings and needed someone to swim out to retrieve duck house and moorings. As always if swimming in duck ponds is required, I am the main man. Swimming was quite refreshing on a hot day, as was the crafty pint I had afterwards.

 

More fishing, more sitting about, we had a really good afternoon. Tea was none too shabby either. Fajitas are always good, and tonightís were especially good. And with tea done and washed up we sat round the camp fire until late. All too soon we had to wave farewell to our visitors, and as people slowly left the fire and went to their beds I sat by the fire and dozed. I would rather sit with people and doze than go to bed. But tonight I gave the port a miss; I was feeling a tad under the weather.

I hope I'm not sickening for something...

 

 

27 August 2012 (Monday) - Home Again

 

 

Last night I wasn't the last one to go to bed. I had a bit of a sniffle, and was hoping it wouldn't develop into something worse. So I took myself off to bed. I woke feeling surprisingly chipper. I was pleased about that.

 

A spot of early morning fishing, a bit of tent tidying, a Stilton omelette, and soon we were all busy packing up the camp site. I was rather miffed as I took my tent down. Again I found that the footprint groundsheet of our tent had done precious little other than to have collected a small lake of water under our tent; thereby delaying packing the tent away by at least half an hour whilst we waited for the thing to dry. This isn't the first time that something like this has happened. I am seriously considering abandoning the whole concept of footprint groundsheets. And just as we were about to bring down our mess tent the rain started. So the tent has been left up. We'll get it down in a few days once it's dried.

 

And so with much of the gear safely into storage, the camping season is over for another year. There is talk of a week-long camp next year; depending on what happens with the August Teston kite festival. But next August is still a year away. There's lots of more immediate stuff to worry about before next August's holiday. Geocaching outings to be planned for next weekend; a cycle trip to be fitted in some time in the next month, and then I really need to start getting organised for this year's bonfire season which will be upon us all too soon; I have promised to supply five gallons of banana ale for one of the events.

 

And another possible outing was suggested as we watched an episode of "Time Team" today which featured an excavation at Shorneclife Redoubt. I didn't know that there was a redoubt at Shornecliffe. I might just have to investigate that...

 

 

28 August 2012 (Tuesday) - This n That

 

 

I did the monthly accounts this morning. They could have been a lot worse. I shouldnít grumble. There was a dodgy five minutes when I couldnít find the astro clubís cheque book (the astro club owes me a squillion quid for the new club banners), but it was eventually found. It was in a very safe place. It was where Iíd put it for safe keeping.

 

I then went up to town. Via a civic building to find a geocache concealed in it. The phrase ďcivic buildingĒ is deliberately vague Ė Iím not giving away any more than I need to (!) I then tried to pay the cheque from the astro club into the bank. The automated device wouldnít have any of it, so I resorted to using the counter like everyone else. Interestingly the bank had a sign up saying that if you arenít one of their customers and you want to use the counter for anything between 11am and 2pm they will charge you fifteen quid. I thought that was rather steep.

And so home via Wilkos where I got the ingredients of a bonfire beer. I know bonfire is still months away, but beer needs preparation. On the way home I met up with Martin who was also having a dayís skive, and we exchanged insults for a bit.

 

Once home I spent the morning attacking the washing basket. After a long weekend camping we had more washing than sense. Eventually I got the washing basket empty enough to put the lid on; but it took some doing. Whilst I washed I got the bonfire beer warmed up and into the mash tub. This brew is a best bitter with (hopefully) a subtle hint of banana. Just how subtle it will be is something that remains to be seen. I have a bit of a problem in that the DTP package I used to make beer labels doesnít work any more. If any of my loyal readers might suggest a beer label designer, I am all ears.

 

Round to the Fudgery. With the ďMy Boy TM Ē Ė mobile in the garage Iíd offered to drive for the mission to take the pestilential pup for his pre-med shots prior to his knackersectomy. It turns out the poor pooch is in a bad way. He is a unibollock; only possessing one. There might be another which hasnít dropped. The vet will have a rummage during the surgery. Poor Fudge. He also has a growth on his ear with is possibly cancerous, but is akin to a wart and is nothing to worry about. Itís easy for the vet to say that.

To lighten the mood I explained to Lacey about how you make rabbits. I explained how you stretch a catís head and glue on long ears and it turns into a rabbit. Lacey didnít believe a word of it. Which was probably for the best.

 

 

29 August 2012 (Wednesday) - Stuff

 

 

There was an interesting article on the radio as I drove to work this morning. Apparently there are moves afoot to change the criteria for which honours, awards and decorations are presented. In a novel break with established tradition it is being proposed that one will no longer be given an OBE or a knighthood for merely doing the job for which one is (more than) adequately paid. The idea being that recognition should be given to those pillars of society who deserve it for a change. A novel concept. The only surprising thing about this scheme is that it has taken so long for the establishment to realise that such a change needs to be made. Regular readers of this drivel may recall that I ranted on this very subject over five years ago on January 4 2007.

Regular readers of this drivel may also recall that I recently entered a short story competition. It transpires that I didn't win. Realistically I never expected to, but there's no denying that I (and my team of volunteer proof-readers) put in quite a bit of effort into the contest. It would have been good to have at least made the short list that was published this morning. I suppose I shouldn't sulk; over one hundred other people have also failed to make the grade. I shall console myself by throwing rocks at those who were good enough. I wonder what I might do with the stories I came up with. How does one go about getting a story published? I wonder if there might be any interest in them?

Something else that regular readers my remember was that an old mucker of mine has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for defrauding his employer. I had plans to write to him during his spell in the chokey; maybe even visiting him. I sent an email off to the prison service a few weeks ago to put the wheels in motion; I got a reply today. He has declined to give permission to let me know which prison he is in. That is his right to do so; I imagine that in his position I might have done the same. I am reliably informed that a lot of people who "go inside" cut themselves off in this way. But I would like to have sent him a line.

 

I arrived at work to be greeted with amazement by one of my colleagues. Apparently there is a post on Facebook tagging me as being at Chessington World of Adventure this morning. It would seem there is an imposter masquerading as me at a fun park. I wish it had been me. I enjoyed my day at Thorpe Park a couple of months ago. A day at Chessington would do me good.

 

Meanwhile our old friend science has found that double stars can have planetary systems. One of the standard astronomical talks I give is about why we haven't met any aliens (yet). I might have to revisit some of the numbers I produce in that talk in light of what science has found. Something else that might need revisiting is my theories on the cost of space travel. With science now of the opinion that a space elevator could actually be a practical proposition.

Getting into space becomes (relatively) cheap. NASA should be pleased about that.

 

And so home again. I took a slight detour on the way home. It was only fifteen minutes after sunset, so I did a quick geocache in Chartham...

 

 

30 August 2012 (Thursday) - Busy, Busy, Busy

 

 

I got up promptly and after a quick bit of brekkie set off to what I thought was a posh part of town to deliver catalogues to the nobs. The area was nowhere near as posh as I thought. Posh houses have letterboxes rather than holes in the door. One supercilious twonk followed me down the street to return his catalogue. I didn't let him see that his attitude boiled my piss; clearly no one has told him that (like everyone else) his shit stinks.

 

I came home and did two hours ironing. As I ironed I exchanged texts with Steve and Lisa who were worrying about the torrential rain. I wasn't worried; it was a glorious day. It was only when Steve texted to say he had abandoned his plans and was sitting outside my house in his car that I properly looked outside. the sky was clear, the sun was shining, the rain was like a biblical flood. Steve came in, we had coffee, and as the rain slacked off to a medium monsoon we texted Lisa. We were all in agreement. If we stayed home we'd all sulk. If we went out, the worst that could happen would be that we'd get wet.

 

So four of us went on an afternoon's drive round Mersham and Aldington. We found fourteen geocaches in phone boxes and cherry trees; near rivers and in tree stumps. We failed to find one. And we didn't get very wet at all. In fact bearing in mind how bad the rain had been during the morning the afternoon's weather was fine. We had a really good afternoon.

 

And so home, and on to Folkestone for Chinese; which was very gratefully received. As were three more geocaches that Jose had made up for me. Now to plant them somewhere...

 

 

31 August 2012 (Friday) - Astro Club

 

 

Last night Jose gave me the makings of a geocache. And then he made them into a geocache. I had just the place in mind to hide it, and had all good intentions of leaving for work early to get the thing in place this morning. What with one thing and another I just couldn't get myself organised, and was five minutes late leaving the house. Which was a pain. I shall have to hide that one next week now.

 

And it was cold this morning. It's still August, but I took a fleece as I left the house. It was chilly. Chilly, but a very bright morning. Bearing in mind how overcast yesterday was at times when I was out and about, I was rather resentful about how bright the day was today when I couldn't be out doing my own thing. Just lately I have developed a tendency to mope when I'm not doing something good. I need to realise that my idea of "doing something good" is most people's idea of "doing something frankly marvellous". I do lead a busy and active life, and so (in contrast) dull times seem oh-so-dull. Sometimes I really do need to take the rough to realise how good the smooth is. I was reminded of this in conversation with a colleague today. When chatting about plans for the weekend I outlined what I had planned. Quite a bit, actually. He had absolutely nothing on his agenda, other than "trying to find something to do". I need to do something about this tendency for moping that I've acquired. My life *is* something frankly marvellous when compared to many people's lives.

 

As well as moping, I sometimes find myself bedevilled by boiling piss. That most volatile of fluids boiled again today when I heard that the fire at my place of work wasn't the only hospital fire in the county this week. There have been two hospital fires; both of which seem to have been set deliberately as a cover for the perpetrators to then rob the cash from the tills in the staff canteen.

And on reflection I can't help but wonder what drives someone to set light to a hospital in order to stage a heist?

 

And so, after a dayís work, I skived off a little early to do something frankly marvellous. The astro clubís summer social. We had a great time; a really good meeting, a good talk, a good chat with all sorts of people, and I even got to meet an old mate Iíd not seen for a year. Good timesÖ